| Sarjit Kaur | Roti for the Soul | Asia Samachar | 30 Jan 2015 |
There was a heavy downpour. From the washroom, I heard sounds of rain thumping against the roof. Surrounded by rainforest and hills, we were camping at the pristine Khalsa Land – the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) site in Kuala Kubu Baru, a town at the foothills of Frasers Hill. At once, my mind went to the Kelantan residents, resonating their situation when rain gathers strength.
The clock struck 4 in the Gurdwara. Campers trickled in. At 3.30 am, our Dasmesh bagpiper gave us a warm rousing wake-up call that swung us from bed! The Akaal Camp was held for 3 days from 8 to 11 January 2015. It was a great way to ignite our inner flame to start the year. For some, it was a life changing experience.
Our daily sadhana or spiritual discipline would cover Simran followed by the 5 Banis comprising Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Savaiye, Benti Chaupai and Anand Sahib. There was radiant wisdom in the Guru’s words. Every sentence carried a profound message. We ended with Sabad Hazaray, the letter written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji to his father, Guru Ram Das Ji, expressing his longing for the Guru. We were encouraged to expand our Bani recitals over time from whatever we are doing, step by step.
SEE ALSO: Akaal Camp underway at Khalsa Land
After our Banis, it was yoga, breakfast and a power nap before we started the morning lectures and Kriyas which would last till lunch. Evenings were filled with martial arts session and then Simran and Rehras at night. We had Shanti Kaur from US and Uptej Singh from UK as our speakers. Sunil Singh from SGGS Academy, Rajveer Singh from Chayo Studio and Sukhdev Singh, our Yoga instructor also joined the team of teachers. It was heartwarming to see a majority of the campers comprising vibrant youth.
“The Sikhi path is a householder concept focusing on humanity. God is in us. God is a living experience. Train your mind to be in the present. Tune in to the vibration in every cell in your body. Feel the dance of energy or shakti from within. Our intellect is so limited. Guru is unknowable, only experiencable. Your essence is pure consciousness. You can listen to Guru’s presence at the most deeper level. Be the light without inhibitions. Be the knower of hearts. Fulfill the destiny that Guru has for you.” I flipped through my notes from Shanti’s session.
Our topic for the day was fear and fearlessness by Shanti. “Where does fear originate in your body? Strangely, in the stomach! Guess they call it butterflies in the stomach for a reason. Personal traumas reside in our subconscious. Women must shed fears, so they don’t pass on to their kids. Our fears are irrelevant. Get to the root of your worry. You abandon fear but you don’t have to resolve them. They just don’t serve you anymore”, explained Shanti.
To eliminate fear, Shanti demonstrated the cupping of our elbows in balance to bring our stomach to equilibrium. She also taught Kriyas to cleanse old scars and clear the aura around us, so it shines and create shine. Only once these blockages are cleared; can we become intuitive. The Hukum Nama on our final morning read – Chant on the Guru’s words and all your fears will depart. It was miraculous. We had God’s assurance and it felt so good.
As we stretched to the various yoga poses led by Sukhdev, the surrounding branches and leaves were waving and dancing to us. As if – synchronising to our spiritual tune. There was rhythm everywhere, in our body and the surrounding. It was a joyful awakening of our senses.
“The art of self defence or martial arts require awareness in the Now,” said Uptej, the founder of Baba Fateh Singh Gatka Akhara. The techniques he taught were practical. He reminded us how we are constantly in the battle fields everyday of our lives, be it battling with our bosses, colleagues, friends, spouse, siblings, children etc. The battle does not end until we are one, including with our enemies. That chord struck me!
The activities were awesome. We felt like Karate Kid at times, full of vigour, striking the punching bag and protecting our eyes and face using both our clenched fists. We were asked to roll on the floor from one end to another of the hall using our core strength. Then, it was application time and role play. He suggested that when attacked by opponents, to roll on the ground and entrap their legs with yours, so they would fall. When assaulted, take a couple of seconds to gain composure, be in the Now, examine which direction your enemy is coming from and then hit with your elbows, legs or roll on the floor. Practicing was believing!
In the panel session, we discussed about our path, life cycle and Maya. We spoke about how challenges co-exist with our lives and it’s a matter of time when they face us. Some of us experience setbacks and falls early on in life, as early as a child. Uptej gave the comparison of a ball of wool with different coloured threads. Guru takes one thread and pulls it, which becomes our challenge. Then it (the challenge) goes off and the next phase comes. He pulls another coloured thread (another challenge). Then, Guruji focuses on someone else. The cycle repeats. It’s like scaling an avalanche. You won’t know when the snow will slide down. We must remember, we are here to learn and everyone who comes into our life will teach us something. Life is never meant to be a bed of roses.
On the other hand, some have a smooth sailing life in their youth and then tragedy strikes at a much later stage. The reality is – we must experience both extremes. After all, we are immortals, having a mortal experience on earth. We must go through sorrow, to understand what joy is. We must go through failure, to know what sweet success is. We can only appreciate good health when we have endured sickness and pain. The same goes for our spiritual journey. You won’t know what purity and light is until you experience murkiness and darkness.
A majority of us experience the ‘dark side’ and then see enlightenment as we age. Some walk the right path all their lives and then some time later, Maya makes it’s appearance. Maya could refer to money, power, greed, anger or lust. Shanti explained that if they refuse the temptation of Maya, they pass the test and go on. If they succumb to Maya, they fall. It’s a trade-off between the value of Maya versus the value of the human spirit.
Humans go for short term gain but suffer long term loss. We read it in the papers and see it happening before our eyes, where no amount of money or power is ever enough and lives are destroyed in the process. Maya separates us from our soul. Uptej equates it to a Snake and Ladder game, where once bitten, you go back to square one. God sents Maya as we go up the spiritual ladder. Our resistance depends on our defense system. We must strengthen up. We must walk the talk. Go up all the way. Follow the light within. And never, never look back!
We each have our story to tell. Our destiny is all written, says Shanti. Children go through the experimental stage during adolescent. As a mother, we must stay soft and waxed. We must not be too hard on them. Rationalize and the wax (lessons) will stay on in them. Continue to pray for them. We cannot live their life through our eyes nor dreams. They must live their life through their lens and spirit. Remember that they have a karmic responsibility too, just like us.
Sunil spoke about the strength of the Sangat. He defines it as a congregation of people who connect to Gurbani, the Word of the Guru. Always stand up and be counted as the Sangat. You will touch people in the course of your life and the Sangat will touch you. Whoever you meet, you become. There is always someone who is gifted in the Sangat. See him as the light of the Guru. Because God resides where the Sangat is. Alone you are ordinary. Together, as a Sangat, we become extraordinary. You get blessings from the Sangat. But these blessings have to be returned. There is always the payback time. Recognise that point where your cup overflows. It signals time to share and give back.
Suprita Kaur, a camper and mountaineer from Kenya gave us a beautiful analogy of voyaging our spiritual journey which is akin to scaling a mountain. There are several steps involved. First, you need to choose your mountain, she says. Then you need to know and study it. It looks beautiful from afar but you need to learn from someone who has been there. The third step is to know the problems and challenges in getting there. Be aware and take baby steps first.
We must respect our body and soul and prepare it for the journey. That’s the fourth step. Remember that our body is our temple. If the heart if willing, Guru will take us there. But set realistic goals. And be accepting to challenges. It’s all part of the journey. You may fall or detour sometimes. That’s ok, similar to the challenges in life. Just remember to get up and go back on course.
Once you reach the top, what happens next? You celebrate. You scream on top of your lungs, clap and may even cry as you probably climbed it for a loved one who is no longer around. Every one’s mountain is different. Why you get there and for whom – is very different. Reflect and make a promise. Tell yourself that after each mountain you have conquered, you would use the resulting force you have acquired. That force you never knew existed before. Use it in other mountains. Prepare your soul for new mountains, just as you advance your spiritual journey.
And how do you pay back? You share your experiences. You encourage family, friends and strangers that it’s a possible feat. That one should never give up. That one should persevere and challenge their limitations. Life and it’s path – is this mountain.
Be careful which mountain you climb. Our light is inside out. That light that never fades. Ignite that flame. Pray for our humbleness. Have faith. When you walk a step to Guru, Guru will take many steps to you. Remember that tough times don’t last but tough souls do. Conquer that righteous mountain. Walk the path of grace and divinity. And share it with the Sangat. So in the final analysis, we can take more of us, on that enlightened path. – ASIA SAMACHAR (30 Jan 2015)
Roti for the Soul is a column on life and its quirks. Sarjit Kaur is a wife, mother and an official at the Malaysian stock exchange
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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